Caveolin-1 is required for vascular endothelial insulin uptake

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jan;300(1):E134-44. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00498.2010. Epub 2010 Oct 19.


As insulin's movement from plasma to muscle interstitium is rate limiting for its metabolic action, defining the regulation of this movement is critical. Here, we address whether caveolin-1 is required for the first step of insulin's transendothelial transport, its uptake by vascular endothelial cells (ECs), and whether IL-6 and TNFα affect insulin uptake or caveolin-1 expression. Uptake of FITC-labeled insulin was measured using confocal microscopy in control bovine aortic ECs (bAECs), in bAECs in which caveolin-1 was either knocked down or overexpressed, in murine ECs from caveolin-1(-/-) mice and in bAECs exposed to inflammatory cytokines. Knockdown of caveolin-1 expression in bAECs using specific caveolin-1 siRNA reduced caveolin-1 mRNA and protein expression by ∼ 70%, and reduced FITC-insulin uptake by 67% (P < 0.05 for each). Over-expression of caveolin-1 increased insulin uptake (P < 0.05). Caveolin-1-null mouse aortic ECs did not take up insulin and re-expression of caveolin-1 by transfecting these cells with FLAG-tagged caveolin-1 DNA rescued FITC-insulin uptake. Knockdown of caveolin-1 significantly reduced both insulin receptor protein level and insulin-stimulated Akt1 phosphorylation. Knockdown of caveolin-1 also inhibited insulin-induced caveolin-1 and IGF-1 receptor translocation to the plasma membrane. Compared with controls, IL-6 or TNFα (20 ng/ml for 24 h) inhibited FITC-insulin uptake as well as the expression of caveolin-1 mRNA and protein (P < 0.05 for each). IL-6 or TNFα also significantly reduced plasma membrane-associated caveolin-1. Thus, we conclude that insulin uptake by ECs requires expression of caveolin-1 supporting a role for caveolae mediating insulin uptake. Proinflammatory cytokines may inhibit insulin uptake, at least in part, by inhibiting caveolin-1 expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / cytology
  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Cattle
  • Caveolin 1 / genetics
  • Caveolin 1 / physiology*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Transport
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptor, Insulin / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Caveolin 1
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Insulin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt